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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Epiphyllic communities on leaves at tropical forests: causes and consequences for leaf functioning at different scales

PI:  Bruno Rosado (Centro de Gestão de Pesquisa, Desenvolvimento e Inovação – CGPDI)
U.S. Partner: Scott Saleska (University of Arizona)
Project Dates: August 2013 to August 2015
This project focuses on improving our knowledge of the basic ecology of forests so we can better understand the response of plant species based on their interaction with epiphylls, identify their role in the carbon cycle in different scales, and anticipate the effects of climate change and different forest management practices on forests and their functioning in ecosystems. This study will provide several intellectual gains and broader impacts to scientists, environmental planners, and students. It should also provide a missing link in forest carbon models with the potential for better understanding atmosphere-vegetation relationships by examining the influence of leaf traits on epiphyllous communities and leaf functioning. Defining the spatial patterns of the influence of epiphyllous communities on leaf functioning among species and sites may be important to assess the overall carbon balance at a particular site. With this clearer understanding, more meaningful models of forest carbon processes can be formulated that incorporate leaf surface variables and epiphyllous communities.
Dr. Rosado and his team expect to develop basic science investigations with relevant results for development goals and challenges. This goal will be reached by stimulating and supporting the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation and maintaining and modernizing the shared research and education infrastructure, including facilities and science and technology centers. A major and broad impact of this proposed study to the public is that it will provide the basis for new information that will enhance our understanding of carbon fluxes. This is especially important given that Brazil has recently approved a new Forest Code that will result in escalating deforestation, increasing the urgency to demonstrate the value and functioning of species. Considering the new paradigm of the green economy that now surrounds this discussion, these researchers expect to produce results on biodiversity research combining floristic, metagenomic, and functional ecology to screen forest leaves. They anticipate strengthening partnerships with science centers and similar institutions to develop exhibits in science and involve the public in research and education activities. Data will be made available in a timely manner by means of databases and digital libraries, and research and education results will be presented in formats useful to policy-makers and broader audiences.
Summary of Recent Activities
The project was severely hampered during its first seven months due to bureaucratic delays at the bank where the PEER funds were deposited. Despite the difficulty, Dr. Rosado has assembled a team of six undergraduates from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Training has commenced on project methods, and the team has analyzed a data set previously collected from tropical forests to get information about species to be sampled for the project. It is expected that by March 2014, all participants will convene in Manaus, with the meeting to be coordinated by U.S. partner Scott Saleska, author of Understanding the Response of Photosynthetic Metabolism in Tropical Forests to Seasonal Climate Variation. A field trip is also planned in conjunction with the meeting.
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